Fast casual is the new niche in restaurants and while it is still small, making up only 6% of the market, it’s been the fastest growing segment for the last 10 years. Here are 6 reasons why America is loving eating at a fast casual restaurant.
1. Fast Casual Dining Is A Service Type. You may order at a counter – and you may even watch your order go down a food line where it’s made to your order – or your food may be brought to your table. You probably won’t find a drive-through window, but you may be able to have your meal delivered to you.
2. It’s About Taste And Quality. It’s not about French fries (although some fast casual chains have them). Fast casual is known for providing a healthier food, better quality food. Fast casual emphasizes its food in a whole different way. For example, you are about six times more likely to find whole grain menu items at a fast casual than at a fast food restaurant. Many fast casuals highlight locally sourced food and they are more likely to use fresh ingredients – think of the tuna in sushi or avocado in a salad.
3. It’s About Variety. Fast casuals are serving up salads, Mexican food, Asian dishes, noodles, bakery and café favorites, pizza, chicken and much more. They are giving customers a choice of a wide variety of tastes. Think about having miso soup without sitting down at a Teppan table or creating the taco you always wanted with ingredients of your choice.
4. There’s Décor. Depending on the fast casual it may be sleek and modern or filled with comfortable booths. Part of the appeal of the fast casual is that they pay attention to atmosphere and décor. It makes your meal a bit more enjoyable if you decide to eat in.
5. But, What Is It? Fast casual is somewhere in between a casual restaurant chain (think an Applebee’s) and a fast food chain (think McD). While you may find an average ticket price around $5 at a fast food chain, you’ll spend more at a fast casual. But, you’re likely to think you’re getting more – more flavor, more choice and better quality. It’s a mix between picking up on the fly and sitting down to eat with the fast casual expecting less than 50% of their business will be sit-down customers.
6. What’s Driving The Trend? Millennials are playing a big role. This group wants fresh at a good price and they’re eating out about 6 or 7 times a week. They want flavor in their food, but given the growth of fast casuals says they’re building customers across the board. While traditional restaurants struggled through the recession, fast-casual visits from by 17%. It’s the appeal of a quality product delivered efficiently and at a good price.
Can you think of some fast casual dining spots near you? You may be heading to one for a Bento box and sushi or maybe you’re looking for a cup of freshly prepared soup. From spicy to comfort foods, fast casuals are offering new choices for everyone to enjoy.